US broadcaster NBCUniversal has partnered with Twitch to launch a new channel on the Amazon-owned streaming platform ahead of this summer’s Tokyo Olympic Games.
The pair will work together to create daily original programming made specifically for Twitch users, including interactive clip shows, athlete interviews, and gaming-themed competitions.
Live content will also be produced directly from Tokyo over the course of the rescheduled Games, featuring a mix of Twitch talent and NBC’s Olympics presenters. The programming also includes primetime sidecasting, with Twitch creators commenting live on a companion interactive broadcast designed to encourage co-viewing of the primetime broadcast on NBC.
In addition, Twitch will deliver other interactive virtual experiences alongside NBC ahead of the Games, including Twitch streamers keeping the Olympic flame ‘alive’ via viewer participation.
Both NBC’s Olympics division and Twitch will collaborate on selling advertising for the new channel, though financial details of the ad split or revenue sharing have not been disclosed.
“We are thrilled to collaborate with Twitch on innovative ways to tell the stories of Team USA’s athletes in Tokyo and build Olympic excitement with their audience,” said Gary Zenkel, president of NBC Sports’ Olympics division. “The Olympic Games are perfectly aligned with Twitch consumers, who are passionate about great competition, personality, and storytelling.”
Michael Aragon, Twitch’s chief content officer, added: “The way that people consume traditional sporting events is changing. They no longer want to simply spectate; they want to be as close to the action and athletes as possible. We’ve seen this firsthand with the growth of our sports community on Twitch, as viewers tune in not only to watch their favorite athletes but to also take part in pre and post-game interviews and virtually connect with other fans from around the world.
“The Olympics present an opportunity for a global fanbase to embrace this new world of live and interactive sports. We are thrilled to partner with NBC to give fans in the United States an intimate, front row seat to this iconic sporting event and connect American athletes and fans in a way that can only happen on Twitch.”
It is the latest effort from NBC to utilize social media for its Olympics coverage, having extended its content alliance with Twitter last October to include both Tokyo 2020 and the Beijing 2022 Winter Games.
Meanwhile, in other NBC news, the broadcaster has explored putting its regional sports networks (RSNs) on streaming service Peacock or selling them off, according to The Wall Street Journal (WSJ).
With more consumers canceling traditional pay-TV subscriptions, the report says that NBC is looking at alternative means to monetize its RSNs and reportedly sees the sports teams associated with the networks as potential buyers.
NBC already announced in January that it will be shutting down NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) by the end of 2021 and will shift most of its sports programming to the USA Network cable channel and Peacock. The company will also no longer broadcast the National Hockey League (NHL) from next season after failing to agree to an extension to its rights deal.